City of Arlington lays off two to counter budget deficit

ARLINGTON — The city of Arlington announced on Tuesday, Aug. 7, that Community Development Director David Kuhl and Wellness Coordinator Sherri Phelps have been laid off effective immediately.

According to Arlington Mayor Barbara Tolbert, this layoff is strictly for budgetary purposes and is in no way a reflection "of the dedication and commitment these fine individuals have given to our organization over the many years."

Tolbert cited the ongoing declines in the city's sales tax collections over the years as a factor in this decision.

"This was not an easy decision to make," Tolbert said. "In 2009 and 2010, the city exhausted its reserves to keep employees' jobs. At the end of 2011, we faced an upcoming $2 million deficit. We were able to close this gap through the sacrifices made by all departments and all employees, in addition to increased utility taxes that secured additional revenue for the city."

Although some of these increases will sunset on Dec. 31, 2014, which will reduce the funding available to the city starting in 2015, the city is facing a more immediate estimated deficit of $700,000 in 2013, which Tolbert cited as requiring additional cuts.

Over the past few years, the city has already used furloughs for non-uniformed personnel, as well as salary savings from arrangements with its uniformed police, fire and EMS personnel, but Tolbert acknowledged that these measures are short-term solutions that won't lead to "an ultimate fix" for the city's budget shortfalls.

"Based upon these reasons, I have directed that the city of Arlington organization be reviewed and realigned from top to bottom," Tolbert said. "These two layoffs are part of that realignment. There are additional, unavoidable changes within the organization that will be forthcoming in the next few weeks. The realignment will help us succeed in the long term. There will be further information in the coming weeks regarding the realignment of the entire organization. We hope to accomplish the realignment with the least possible disruption to the lives of our employees and their families."

Tolbert thanked Kuhl and Phelps for their commitment to the city, and the hard work that they've each invested in it over the years.

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